Chapter Seventeen: Mythology Lessons
I don’t give a shit we’re not supposed to holler for individual students!
“WHHOOoooaAA!” I whoop as my sister walks up to the podium to give her Valedictorian speech. “THAT’S MY SOOKS!”
Her lips purse, and then a huge blush covers her face as she gives me a frantic, small head shake. I give her a wink, but I doubt she can see it from so far away. A couple parents are lookin’ at me like I’m a redneck, half expectin’ me to pull out a six shooter and fire some rounds into the ceilin’ or somethin’. Whatever, I think, my grin too big for my face. My baby sis is Valedictorian and damn it, I’m too proud not to whoop and holler for her!
“Thank you, parents, families, faculty, and Graduating Class of 2001,” Sookie begins her speech in a bolder voice than I’ve ever heard from her. “Personally, I don’t have much to say, so I’ll save it for the very end. Instead, I’ll start with remindin’ y’all what we’ve accomplished the last four years. I hope it will remind all of us as we set out toward our futures that anythin’ is possible through hard work and cooperation. Our Freshmen year, we raised over $30,000 to donate toward the Heat Relief. That followin’ summer, there was a record low in exposure-related deaths and hospitalizations.
“Our Sophomore year, we flooded the local public libraries on the weekends, readin’ to small children as well as older members of the community who have been left behind or forgotten by the school systems. We don’t have numbers to speak of the good we did that year, but I know we all felt the difference we were makin’ in the lives of so many others less fortunate than us.
“Junior year, we implemented the “Clean Streets” rally, where we coordinated with other schools and local law enforcement to anonymously drop off drugs, paraphernalia, and unregistered firearms.”
“Finally, when we should have been burnt out, we knocked it outta the park by takin’ a page outta “The Shawshank Redemption” and annoyin’ computer companies to tears until five of our Shreveport public schools were supplied with gently-used or refurbished computer labs.
“So, to reiterate, in only four years you have saved the lives of several people who had nowhere to escape the heat of Louisiana. You have inspired and assisted the literacy of your community. You have taken drugs and unlicensed firearms off the streets. You have given opportunities for underfunded schools to offer necessary computer skills and training to their students.
“Now, when you go to college or trade school in the Fall, or start a job, you remember all the good you accomplished in just four years of high school. With cooperation, planning, and hard work, you can do anythin’, because you’ve already done so much!
“Now, the part where I give some sort of words of wisdom. I don’t personally think an eighteen-year-old has any wisdom to give, but I do have a suggestion. That suggestion is love. Love what you do, love who you’re with, love who you are, just love ’til it hurts. You don’t know how much time you might have to say ‘I love you,’ so the minute you know it’s true, shout it, show it, scream it. That’s all I can suggest because I do know that sometimes you don’t get a second chance.
“Congratulations, Class of 2001. We’re outta here!”
The auditorium erupts with applause as Sookie nods her head appreciatively and goes to her seat. Then I gotta sit and wait forever until they get to the S’s, and they call Sookie up for her diploma. I give another backwater country ‘WHOOP’ for her and get another embarrassed expression from her face.
When they get to the T’s, I realize the couple sittin’ next to me are Meredith Trinovski’s parents as they clap much more enthusiastically for her than anyone else so far.
“Oh, you Meredith’s parents?” I ask once their daughter has left the stage and they’re on to the next student.
“Yes, Caroline and Evan,” the mom nods warily.
“I’m Sookie’s brother,” I tell them. “Your daughter’s always been real nice to Sookie. You raised a good girl,” I smile kindly.
“Thank you,” Caroline replies, still hesitant about me. “Why aren’t you sitting with your parents?”
I frown, “Um, they’re dead, Ma’am. It’s just me and Sooks now.” Didn’t Meredith ever tell them? I realize that Sookie probably never came up. My sister didn’t really have time for outta school friends and activities. Meredith probably never even mentioned much about Sookie to her parents.
“Oh, I’m sorry to hear that,” Caroline apologizes. “Well, good for her, graduating with such an honor under the circumstances!”
“Thanks, she worked real hard for it,” I mumble. Somehow her congratulations sound less than sincere, almost politely indulgent. Like we were some charity case and Sook’s accomplishments are some publicity statement for the school or somethin’.
Thankfully they’re almost done handin’ out diplomas, there’s a closing speech by the principal, and then I can grab Sooks and get outta here. Once Principal Teedleson says his ‘goodbye’ speech to the seniors, and the students throw their caps in the air, I’m already pushin’ my way down to my sister.
“Hey, Sookie,” I wrap her up in my arms and give her a big hug.
“Hey!” She grins and wraps her arms around me tight. “How was my speech?” she asks excitedly.
“Well worth the wait. Blew mine outta the water,” I tell her honestly.
“Thanks,” She looks around, spots a couple of her friends, and gives them swift hugs and congratulations before coming back to me. “Ready to go?”
“Yeah,” I nod, “let’s go celebrate. Eric got us reservations for an early dinner.”
“Really?” she asks, wrappin’ her arm around mine as we head out. With her free hand, she unzips the front of her graduation gown and shows off the ocean blue sundress Pam picked out for her. I don’t like how it shows off her ‘lady shelf,’ but otherwise, it’s kinda pretty. Just don’t like it on my little sister…
We walk arm-in-arm to the Ranger, and I open her door for her, makin’ sure she’s stabile in the heels she’s got on while she climbs in. When I’m behind the wheel, I wait for several attendees to walk past.
“I’m real proud of you, Sookie,” I tell her.
“Thanks, Jason,” She gives me another of her bashful grins.
“You sounded real confident at that podium. Don’t think I’ve ever heard ya talk so well,” I add.
“Gee, thanks,” she laughs, and punches my arm playfully while I finally pull outta the parkin’ space. We leave the parkin’ lot of the convention center and I reach over to give Sookie’s hand a firm squeeze. After a few minutes of quiet drivin’, Sookie throws a bombshell at me, “I’m movin’ in with Eric in June.”
“Wh-what?” It takes all my willpower to not gawk at her and pay attention to the road instead.
“We’re Bondin’ on June twelfth,” she tells me.
“What? I thought you was doin’ that in December, then gettin’ married the same day next year!” I protest.
Sookie shrugs, “We changed our minds.”
“You both did, or he did?” I demand.
“We did,” she assures me. “We just got talkin’ a whole lot last week.”
I frown at her explanation, “What did you talk about?”
I see outta the corner of my eye that she’s starin’ at her hands in embarrassment, so I know her answer is gonna make me flip out, and I ease into a gas station to avoid runnin’ us off the road. Once I’m parked, I turn and look at her expectantly.
“Umm,” she plays with her nails nervously. “I… I want to save myself for my weddin’ night…”
“You bumped your weddin’ up by half a year, so you could fuck!?” I roar. “Shit, Sookie! Bone the guy! You’re gonna be a vampire at some point anyway! Not like you’ll go to hell for premarital sex if you’re a fuckin’ immortal!” I yell at her.
“Jason,” Sookie groans, “it’s always gonna be him. Why wait? What’s the point?” she stresses.
I lean back in my seat and push my hands against my face to hide the fact that I feel like I might cry, not ’cause I’m unhappy or scared or just upset. I wanna cry ’cause my baby sister is all grown up and leavin’ me behind.
“I’m still goin’ to college this autumn,” Sookie tells me. “I’m still gonna be a teacher. I’m still gonna have my white weddin’ next December,” she rattles off. “You’re still gonna walk me down the aisle, Jason.”
“I know,” I sigh, and lean my head back in my seat. “Listen, is this about the sex, or is this about wantin’ t’spend the rest of your life with Northman now?” I ask more gently.
“Spendin’ the rest of forever with Eric,” she replies quietly.
“Okay,” I sigh.
“Okay?” she asks hopefully.
I shrug, “I can’t stop ya, Sook. If this is what ya want, then you go after it. You’re more grown-up than most the people I’m in college with, and some of them are married already. If this is what you want, and you’re certain about it, I won’t get in the way.” I try real hard not to pout. It still stings, knowin’ Sooks is movin’ out in a month, though.
“You know what would be super cool?” Sookie whispers when I finally pull outta the gas station and start headin’ for the restaurant.
“What?” I ask, starin’ ahead at the road.
“If we both got jobs at the same high school. We could eat lunch together and rant about all the same kids,” she teases.
That makes me laugh, “Yeah, that’d be real cool.”
We get to the restaurant and eat a nice, early dinner before headin’ home. Around eight, we’re all chilled out and watchin’ “Animal House” when Sookie’s cellphone rings.
“Hey, Eric,” she answers with a huge grin. “… Huh? Why? …You don’t know? Well… Oh… When?”
There’s a sharp knock at the door right when Sookie asks that, and we both turn to frown at it. I get up to answer, and our apartment fills up like a clown car. Pam, Eric, Godric, little Dr. Ludwig, and some guy I never seen before all file into the entryway.
What the hell is this all about? I wonder as Godric crosses his arms, frowning. How’d he get here so fast? Sun only set forty minutes ago. Did he come last night?
“Um, hi, everyone,” Sookie waves confusedly at our sudden guests. “Can I get either of you two something to eat or drink?” she asks of the doctor and the stranger.
“No, thank you,” the man replies with a soft smile. He’s got a bit of an accent, like a Louisiana transplant or someone who moved away from here a while ago. The ringlets in his hair are a soft brown like how Daddy’s used to get in the winter, and his eyes are the same blue shade as me and Sooks. It’s kinda weird. He looks like he could be our older brother.
“I am fine,” Ludwig replies sharply. She looks pissed! “What is going on!?” Ludwig snaps at the stranger. “You summoned us and I do not like it!”
“Excuse me,” Sookie interrupts the doctor’s beginning of a tirade. “I don’t mean to be rude, but who are you two?”
“I am Dr. Ludwig,” Doc manages to rein in her attitude when she turns to my sister. “I am the one who worked on your brother’s shoulder.”
“Oh! Thank you so much!” Sookie grins at her. “I can’t tell you how much your help is appreciated-”
“And this little bastard is Endymion,” she snaps, cuttin’ off my sister and glarin’ daggers at the stranger. He replies to her insult with a shit-eatin’ grin that makes me choke on a laugh. I never seen someone pull that face on the Doc, even when she wasn’t around.
Up until this point, Eric, Pam, and Godric have been silently observin’ the situation as it unfolds.
“Godric,” I nod at the younger lookin’ vamp, “good to see ya again. How ya been?”
“Well, thank you,” he replies shortly, still starin’ at the two non-vamps who arrived with them.
Endymion sighs and gestures to our living room. I guess he can tell now’s not the time to stand on formalities. Ludwig sits on the far corner of the couch; I sit next to her with Sooks on my right. Eric and the other vamps stand behind the couch, all with their arms crossed somberly.
“Obviously, you are all wondering why I have gathered you here,” Endymion comes to stand in front of us. It feels like we’re in a film noir or cheesy detective series like “The Pink Panther” with Clouseau ’bout to pop outta the pantry. “Doctor, I am certain you are particularly frustrated by my abrupt summons and vague explanations.”
“Obviously,” she snaps again.
Endymion sits on our coffee table and steeples his hands in front of his face, “There is a tale I must tell you all to explain why I am here before you. Sookie and Jason, I know that all of this will be very difficult for you to digest, but, I beg you, keep a patient and open mind.” Me and Sooks can only nod, leanin’ forward, a bit curious.
“First, I will tell you who I am. My name is Endymion, I am, for lack of a better title, The Voice of God.” Sookie’s mouth twists with confusion, and I feel my jaw slacken. “There are many Gods and Goddesses, and when they wish to interact or effect the land of mortals, it is I whom they send. Your vampires will be able to explain my duties further if you are interested but, for the sake of time, we will leave my explanations there on that matter.
“Now, there are many Endymions. Each one oversees several dimensions. I have about twenty of whom I am in charge. That said, I will tell you the tale that has brought us all together this evening.
“Nearly nineteen years ago in this dimension, I opened the gates of the Old Kingdom to deliver a very special gift to someone the Gods and Goddesses granted me permission to favor. I came upon this gift after a very intense battle with the Titan known as Chronus…”
“That is all well and good,” Ludwig interrupts angrily, “but I have patients to see!”
“Anyway,” He looks at Ludwig grumpily, “after the battle, the warrior who defeated him gifted me with a culmination of their power. I discovered that I could give someone I deemed deserving something very precious. I could give that person everything she had ever longed for in other dimensions. When this timeline came upon your conception, I looked ahead and found the strife that would surround you. I found this Sookie to be the most deserving of their gift.”
We’re all lookin’ at Endymion and finally, Sookie utters, “Why me?”
Endymion smiles and replies, “Because it was several versions of you who defeated Chronus.”
We’re all starin’ now. Partly speechless ’cause this story’s so fuckin’ fantastically unbelievable, and partly ’cause this dude’s sayin’ my sis has some kinda magical surplus shoved in her. Now we’re all starin’ in different directions. Me, Pam, and Eric are lookin’ at Sook while Godric and Ludwig are starin’ at Endymion.
“There was one thing that united the Sookies who destroyed Chronus and made them able to work together, their love for a certain Viking vampire. All four were Bonded to Eric in their own dimensions. All four loved him desperately. That is why I have come to you now. You see, that love is a catalyst for the awakening of your latent, passive magic.”
Sookie blinks several times before utterin’, “I have no idea what that means.”
Endymion smiles at her, “It means that when you Bond to Eric, the magics of the gift I bestowed will awaken. They are all passive magics, but that does not make them any less remarkable. You have shown several of the more desirable traits of the other versions of yourself, the human traits; resolve, selflessness, perseverance, pragmatism, and a loving and forgiving nature. Those qualities are what have brought you so far in this world, but they could not have done so if you had not possessed those qualities already.
“Finally, I am going to explain one last thing, and it is precisely why all of you are here right now. One of the passive magics you will receive upon Bonding with Eric is the magic of an artifact from one of those dimensions. It was known as The Bloodletting Blade. You will not be able to utilize all of that artifact’s powers, but the one you did receive will influence all of you,” He points to Sookie and the vamps. “That magic will give you shared immunities. In that universe, it meant Godric’s Bloodline was unaffected by silver and sunlight. In this dimension, however, Sookie will have other immunities; an angelic gift that is particularly all-encompassing, Living Immortality.”
I can tell by the vamps’ expressions that this is some huge-ass deal. All three of ’em stopped breathin’ almost in sync with each other. I think Godric’s jaw is hangin’ a bit, Pam’s eyes are huge, and Eric’s brow is scrunched in the most quizzical expression I ever seen.
“Now,” Endymion begins to explain, “you three are already vampires, which means you cannot have living immortality. However, you will now have Impervious Immortality.”
“What does that mean?” Sookie whispers, lookin’ the picture of overwhelmed.
“It means that none of you four can be killed…by anything, not sunlight, silver, decapitation, fire, nothing. You will become walking Gods,” Endymion looks almost nervous. “There is a fail safe,” he continues, “The source of your impervious immortality is going to be Sookie’s wings. They will reveal themselves upon the eve of your Bonding. To undo your impervious immortality, her wings would need to be cut off. Sookie would become mortal once more, and you three would become almost ordinary vampires once again. You would be able to meet your final death, but still have your resistances to silver and sunlight until you were forced to turn Sookie as she would no longer have her living immortality. Mostly, this fail safe is so when the world comes to its natural end, you may end your existences. However, it is also implemented for the purpose that if you abuse your impervious immortality, measures may be taken to remove it from your grasps. Keep in mind, Sookie’s wings should remain concealed at all times until you truly wish to end your existences. There is only one creature who can force an Angel to reveal their wings, and that is me. Seeing as I have given you all this gift, I am extremely unlikely to take it away unless you do things to force my hand.”
“Um,” I mumble slowly, “what if Godric, Pam, or Eric make another vamp in the future? Would it have all that stuff, too?”
Endymion looks at me and smiles, “Yes, if you wished to become vampire and stay with your sister forever, you would have all the powers of their Bloodline, no matter which of them transforms you.”
My relief is short-lived as Ludwig finally stands up and shouts, “WHY THE HELL AM I HERE!?”
The Voice groans, pinches the bridge of his nose, and looks at Ludwig in frustration. “I summoned you because of a certain passive magic Sookie will experience. It directly involves you,” he tells her all flustered. Ludwig folds her arms over her chest and waits expectantly. “In one of those dimensions, Sookie could conceive children with Eric, immortal children. That is one of the magics that will course through her body once they are Bonded. However, I have no idea how that ability will manifest in this dimension because in this dimension, fairies do not experience Estrus. I do not know if this Sookie will go through the same experience as that Sookie when she is fertile, but I do know that she will be able to conceive and bear his biological children. That is why you are here, Ludwig.”
Sookie breaks into a sudden sob at Endymion’s explanation, and I don’t miss Eric’s hands loosening over the back of the couch. Suddenly, Sookie ain’t sittin’ at my side any longer. Eric’s scooped her up beneath her armpits and crushed his mouth to hers.
“I love you so much,” she mumbles against his mouth, her arms wrappin’ around his neck.
Godric and Pam look completely gobsmacked by the news and I can’t say I blame ’em. However, I’m still stuck on the word ‘fairy’ while everyone else is stunned by the word ‘conceive’.
“You see, I summoned you to this meeting, so you would be entirely informed on the circumstances when I told you that you need to monitor this girl,” Endymion is still talkin’ to Ludwig. “Hormone levels, temperature, the whole works,” he continues, “anything you can think of to give them warning. I will give you all the notes I have from the Ludwig of that Sookie’s dimension on the chance that this Sookie goes through Estrus. If she does, you will have no idea how to handle it, and you need to be educated on the subject.”
“I see,” Ludwig slumps back on to the couch, lookin’ more than a bit shocked. The confusion vanishes quickly, though, and I see a flash of excitement in her eyes.
“I have given you all a great deal of information to digest this evening,” Endymion announces. “Ludwig, I will have all the documentation I can find to you shortly. Everyone, please discuss the matter in great detail, and keep two things in mind:
“Your position within the vampire communities will be changed beyond your comprehension once your new abilities are known. Secondly, even though you cannot be killed, it does not mean you cannot be harmed.”
With that, Endymion’s gone in a bright flash and an eerie tinkling of chimes. Before any of us can start talkin’, Ludwig jumps up from the couch, turns to my sister, and gives her a come-here gesture with her finger.
“Yes, Ma’am?” Sookie goes over to the doctor.
“We are doing a complete work up this instance! I want to know everything that changes from the instant you are Bonded,” Ludwig takes Sookie’s hand and practically drags her down the hall toward the bedrooms.
While we sit around waitin’, Eric turns to me and asks, “So, you see immortality in your future?”
I nod slowly, “Yeah… I got the opportunity to make sure my sister never loses me. I’m gonna take it. That way, when you two have your spouse’s quarrels, she’s still gonna have her big brother to run to.”
“In that case,” Godric interrupts us, “I do believe that it is I who should turn you, Stackhouse.”
“What? Why’s that?”
“If you were my Child,” Eric begins to explain, “I would have your complete servitude. As Godric’s Child, you would technically be a separate branch of our Bloodline. Do not mistake that for being my equal as a vampire. You will never in your entire existence match my strength and speed.”
“I don’t give a shit ’bout that… Okay, maybe a little,” I laugh. “I just care ’bout Sookie. Sure, it’ll be cool to be super-fast and strong, but if I’ll still be able to go out in the day and shit? Man, I could teach for the rest of eternity! Maybe open my own private school! Aw, man! This’ll be so cool!”
“When do you believe you would wish to be transformed?” Godric asks me curiously.
I shrug, “I dunno, maybe a couple years? When I’m twenty-seven or twenty-eight? Right in that sweet spot of age where I can bang college girls and not look like a creep, but old enough the kids won’t walk all over me…”
Eric snorts at my explanation, and Pam full out laughs.
“I will need to move to your Area to raise this one,” Godric smiles. “He will never leave his sister long enough to make it through his fledgling stage.”
“How long’s that?” I ask curiously.
“Roughly one hundred years,” Godric replies with a shrug.
“Yeah, no one’s keepin’ me from my sis that long,” I agree.
“And I am certain no one could keep her from you that long,” Eric responds. “I do not wish to exist with my Mate so morose due to your absence.”
“So, we’ll revisit this in, like six or seven years,” I tell them all. “I mean, assumin’ y’all don’t change your minds,” I try to laugh at the possibility, but I’ll admit, they could change their minds someday.
Part of me is disappointed Pam won’t be the one who turns me into a vamp. On the other hand, Pam is Eric’s Child, which means that I would still be subject to Eric if Pam turned me. Yeah, Godric’s definitely the better choice on this, I decide sadly. Regardless, Pam and I will still be able to wreak some havoc now and again. Shit, maybe I’ll be able to keep up with her in the sack! I laugh at the thought.
“What’ll it be like?” I ask softly. “Bein’ a vamp?”
Eric looks at me a moment before shruggin’, “With the advantages your sister will give our Bloodline, you will have very little adjusting. Your acclimations will be mostly sensory, and accustoming to the drinking of blood rather than consuming food. The speed and strength you will need to learn to manage but, other than that, you will have little to no true adjustments to undergo. If anything truly changes you, it will be time, not abilities. That is the true struggle of an immortal, Jason, time. With it, you may lose sight of who you were. It may bring out a ruthlessness you did not know you had. It may bring apathy and distrust… I suppose some of those things you will be immune from because of the lack of limitations you will experience, but they are real threats to your humanity. However, with Godric as your Maker, and Sookie as your sister, I have my doubts that you would ever lose your humanity.”
“Did you?” I ask.
“For a very long time,” Eric confesses. “I have told you before that I am capable of extreme darkness. I am and always will be a warrior. Warriors are not destined for peace. We are born to battle, and my vampirism only fueled my need for war. Strength, speed, ruthlessness… These things were amplified after I was turned, and they created a monster only sheathed by the will of my Maker over time. You are not a warrior. You are a teacher, and I hope that time will only make you more of what you are.”
“What did Endymion mean when he said you couldn’t die, but could still be hurt?” I ask next.
Godric smiles sadly, “He meant that there are things worse than death… We are still animated corpses and weak to necromancers. If we do not guard ourselves properly against them, we can be manipulated. Sookie, though she will not be able to be killed, will always be a weakness. Any children she bears will always be a weakness. They can be hurt in ways that we cannot, which means we can be hurt.”
“But if she’s immortal-”
“She can be raped, Jason,” Pam snarls. “If anyone can tell you how brutally that can be done, it is me.”
My shoulders tense at the thought, “Then we don’t leave her alone, ever. Her and I will get a job at the same school, and she’ll wanna be with Eric the whole time after you’re Bonded anyway, right?”
“Which is what Endymion’s warning was about,” Godric nods. “He was merely telling us to protect our weaknesses because when word of our immunities gets out, they will be exploited. The vampire council will not protect us any longer. We will officially be the most feared of Bloodlines.”
“A consolation,” Eric adds, “is that befriending us would be more beneficial than provoking us. The best offense we may have is approachability. The more amicable our dealings, the less hardships we will incur.”
“I’m gonna be a super bad weakness until I’m turned,” I realize aloud.
“Yes,” Eric nods.
“Do you, umm, wanna just turn me now?” I ask nervously. “I don’t want Sooks in danger none.”
Godric smiles at my offer, “We will keep our immunities discrete for the time being. We may not be able to wait for your twenty-eighth or ninth birthday before it is prudent to transform you, but we shall see how it goes.”
“Fair enough,” I concede.
Life sure gets weird quick when you bring vampires into the mix.